Daring to do Disney Without Your Kids

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Features, Park Wise

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parkwise

Published on June 27, 2013 at 2:00 am with 21 Comments

I’m currently sitting at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, watching families walk by with toddlers babbling in their Mickey-balloon decorated strollers and brothers racing each other to each lamp post. Parents are scolding their teenagers and chasing their three year-olds. But I’m sitting, here with my refillable mug and a laptop, with my feet up. Without my kids. Yes, I left the little mouseketeers at home.
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It’s only fair to mention that I’m at Walt Disney World for an Agent Education Program, and it’s officially grown-ups only, so I didn’t even have the option to bring the kiddos. That is, of course, unless I wanted to spring for another resort room and a babysitter. Nah. However, we’ve run into several “girls trips” and other grown-ups only vacations during the week. So, could you do it? Could you get away with doing Disney without your kids?

The Downside

While a vacation without the responsibility of keeping tiny humans alive may sound sublime, there are a few things that can make you feel not-so-magical.

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1. Guilt

Not gonna lie, I felt so guilty about heading to my son’s favorite place in the world that I didn’t even tell my little Disney geek where my conference was until the weekend before I left. He took it surprisingly well, as long as I promised a souvenir and some FaceTime during the fireworks, that is. I don’t think the response would have been the same if I’d been leaving on a girls’ week of fun at the parks, though. And this Disney gal would’ve felt major pangs of guilt.

Get Park Wise: Think twice about sending a postcard. My little guy wants one, but it might make your little ones feel worse that they’re missing out on the Disney fun.

2. Making Arrangements for the Kids

If you and your love are headed to the parks for a romantic week, you have to first figure out where your kidlets are going to go while you are in Disney paradise. Is Gramma going to be able to watch them? Would you trust them with friends? Or is anyone even willing to put up with your rugrats for a week?

3. Missing the Little Ones

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This one, I am having major issues with this week. Yesterday, our group toured Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and that is our family’s Disney home. Everywhere I looked was a memory or an experience I know the kids would love. Or I’ll see a family with kids around the same age having a blast with their family, and I’ll wish I was having that experience, too.

The Upside

On the other hand, hitting Disney without your little darlings can be great!

1. Time

Guess what? When you travel without kids, you only have to bathe and dress and feed yourself! I know, right?! There’s no wrangling children into the bus to make it to rope drop or dragging them sleepily from your Good Neighbor Hotel to make sure you’re first in line for Splash Mountain. I went from bed to lobby in about 30 minutes this morning. Yeah!

2. Freedom

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Or, you can hang out in bed all morning without a five year-old tugging on the covers screaming for Dumbo. You can hit all the thrillers first thing in the morning when wait times are low without feeling guilty about skipping Disney Jr. Live on Stage. One of my favorite things is being able to have a couple of girls’ nights out. We enjoyed a long, drawn-out dinner, and we’re headed to Jellyrolls tonight. As long as your travel buddy (or buddies) are game, you can do whatever you want!

3. Experience

Take some time on your grown-ups only vacation to experience some things you don’t get to with the kids. Book a romantic dinner at Victoria & Albert’s and don’t worry about whether or not they serve chicken nuggets. Take time to stroll slowly through the World Showcase and sample some ethnic flair. The World (or the Land) is your oyster for the week, so enjoy those things you might otherwise rush past with the whole family in tow,

Have you ever left the kids at home and hit your favorite resort? Or is it something you could never do? Why or why not?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • disneydempster

    First off let me begin by declaring I love my kids. We live in CA very close to Disneyland so we are frequent visitors as a family and have been to WDW 5 times as a family. My wife and I have been 3 times without kids – in a word, awesome. We can set our schedule and experience the attractions, shows and restaurants which interest us. Most importantly we can linger and soak in the wonderfully detailed environment which is so often overlooked when accompanied by our younger family members. Food and Wine festival or Flower and Garden are exceptional times for an adult only experience. Disney cruise without kids, is also a real treat.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Food and Wine would be a fantastic grown-ups only getaway! Glad you guys have really enjoyed yourselves!

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    I don’t have kids, so every trip is kid-free. But I can identify with the traveling alone bit. While I almost always travel with my significant other, I have visited Walt Disney World solo on many occasions (usually business related). I’ve always found the experience to be wonderful. Though, there are things that take some getting accustomed to: not having anyone to talk to in line and dining alone are the biggies. But the advantages of doing what you want, when you want are huge!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      That’s when you chat up your line mates and let them know about this great online Disney forum you happen to know about! ;)

  • sdavidek

    My “kid’s” are now in their 20′s and were very upset when my wife and I did the WDW trip without them a couple of years ago. But they had college and such. That 7 days with just my wife and I and her brother and his wife were a blast. No worries, only time we had to be somewhere was dinner or lunch reservations. The best part was the last day when my brother in law and I did all the “E Tickets” at all 4 parks before lunch. Of course the time of year (just as spring break was starting for many colleges) helped with that and the early morning into studio’s for a Toy Story Mania fastpass… But just sitting and watching the world go by made for a nice vacation. And we made it up to the “kids” by going to Disneyland last month…

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Loving the E-ticket morning marathon!! And there’s nothing wrong with making it up to them. I’m doing the same next month. Haha!

  • DobbysCloset

    Most of my trips to DL were on my own, no kids, no significant other. Once I took a real Nigerian Scam Artist for a morning — that was fun! (He paid for it and for me and my two step-sons to spend the rest of the day there — it was the one thing he wanted to see before he skedaddled home).

    But for my next trip I have the Service Chihuahua, Dobby, as my companion. Not a perfect companion — hates swimming pools and water rides. But perfect for waiting in long lines!

    Jessica, it sounds like your family gets plenty of Disney. I always feel sad when I go alone that somewhere there’s a kid that wants to be where I am, some poor kid in foster care or a Big Brothers program. As a Special Ed teacher you know what I mean. Getting a kid to Disney is a special mission…for those with magic in their hearts.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      We do get our regular Disney dose, so I didn’t feel TOO guilty. ;) Just missed them.

      I know what you mean about wishing all kids had a chance to experience the magic. Hoping we’ll be able to help a few kids get there throughout our little guy’s childhood.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Like Dusty, I don’t have kids, so all my visits are kid-free. And I usually hit the parks on my lonesome, which is honestly my preferred way. I like the freedom to see what I want, when I want. Does that make me selfish? I don’t think so. I have a few friends I sometimes meet up with at the parks, but we’re the kind that’s game for pretty much anything, so no whining about now wanting to do an attraction everyone else does and no arguments about where to eat and when either.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Absolutely not selfish! No problem in enjoying Disney however works for you!

  • Asylim

    My wife and I went to disneyland for the first time ever, on our honeymoon. That was five years ago this month. We fell in love with the place.

    My son is 3 and has been three times now.

    At the moment I can’t ever see doing it without them while they are still small. But once they are bigger, all bets are off.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Haha! It would definitely be hard to leave them during that age, especially when they still have that wide-eyed wonder. Love that last comment, though. ;)

  • waltons

    Thanks Jessica for this article. I needed that at this time. My husband and I are in our 60′s and have never done a WDW vacation without our kids and/or grandson. Talk about major guilt trip, that has always been at the top of the list even though my hubbie and I would fanaticize about hittling WDW with just ourselves. But, this next December we will be going with another couple and none of our kids or grandkids. The other couple is a family that we have often vacationed with over the years with all our kids and now grandkids too, but we have never done WDW with them and in fact, they have never been there yet themselves. I think we still will have that kind of “magical kid” experience with them because they are newbies. Seems really strange planning a WDW trip for ourselves.
    We live in SoCal, so do DL quite often, we are AP holders. Our friends just never felt the desire to go to WDW before because they had DL in their backyard, so to speak. We kept telling them that The World is a different Disney experience. So after years and years, they finally have decided to see what they have been missing.

    Our grandson has been asking me when are we going to go back to WDW again for the last 6 months. I finally told him about a week ago that Grammy and Grampy were going to go the first 10 days in December but without him this time. Told him that third grade was a really hard grade and his parents said they didn’t want him to miss any school this next year, so we were going with Uncle Doug and Aunt Jeanie. (Not really his uncle and aunt, our two families are just that close.) I was pleasantly surprised that when he found out Uncle D’s and Aunt J’s grandkids weren’t going either and they had to go to school too, that he took it really well. No crying and pleading as I had imagined.

    As you stated, there will be times that we will at least miss the grandson horribly, but it will be nice not having to work our schedule around his needs and preferences. Now that he didn’t take it as bad as I thought he would, I’m actually getting very excited about this adult trip. If this trip turns out well, maybe we will start doing an every other trip without the family.

    We did take our first Disney Cruise last September without any of the thundering family herd. We did NYC followed by the Disney Canadian Cruise. Wanted to take grandson, but would have been his second and third week of the new school year, again, too much time for him to miss. He couldn’t believe that we would go without him, because as he put it, “You know I have always wanted to go to those places my whole entire life. How could you go without me?” He had just turned 7 at the time. Missed the kids, didn’t miss the hub bub of the group. I think we are going to be up to doing the Panama Canal soon, with out entourage in tow.

    Grandson does have something to look forward to. His (real) aunt is getting married at the Aulani next year and he will be missing the second to the last week of school to be there and attend.

    • DobbysCloset

      “He couldn’t believe that we would go without him, because as he put it, “You know I have always wanted to go to those places my whole entire life. How could you go without me?”

      That is so cute!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      My little one is also going into third and took it much better than I thought. So glad your little mouseketeer did, too! Hope you all enjoy your trip! December is a wonderful time to visit the World, and a GREAT time to have a first trip! Your friends will love it!!

  • David Hollenbeck

    My wife and I went to WDW for our honeymoon in ’95, that was the first time I went that I didn’t feel I was on the kid half of the equation. It was terrific. Our next trip wasn’t until our son was 5, but while it was very different, it was enjoyable. Our next trip was when my daughter was 5 (she was 1 on the previous trip).

    On that trip, there were a few ways life took a little swipe at us – my wife had just gotten some disappointing news about things at work, so she was distracted and somewhat irritable, even though she didn’t want to be. Then, a stomach bug ripped through several members of our clan, including my wife and daughter (we had to cancel our reservations for breakfast at the castle). This was at Christmas, too, so even when everyone was healthy, it was very busy and difficult to get to everything you wanted and even if we could have, there were rides the kids didn’t want to go on… you know how it is. My wife’s birthday is Christmas Eve and she wanted to be in the Magic Kingdom which was fine, we knew it would be crowded, but weren’t prepared for quite that level of insanity while we were there. Overall, the trip was a minor disaster.

    When we got home we were talking about the trip while looking at photos and kept saying “Aww, it’s too bad we didn’t get to do this…and that…and that…” So that’s when it hit me. We had to go on a trip without the kids. They had just started advertising the 30% off rooms for springtime and I thought that would be perfect. We have wanted to try the Wilderness Lodge for a while and this would be an ideal time. I worked at a Disney Store for a little while and had 2 one-day park hopper passes that were 15 years old, but I had held on to them. I made reservations at the California Grill because it isn’t the kind of place our kids would enjoy and we could watch the fireworks, it would be great, even though just a long weekend. Had she not seen the airfare on the credit card statement ahead of time, it would have been a complete surprise for her on Valentine’s Day.

    The weekend after my son’s birthday we went. The kids stayed with their grandparents which was a thrilling enough distraction that they weren’t even really interested in what we were doing. I must say that I’m surprised at how many people tell their kids they’re going without them. I’m not suggesting they should have lied, but things might have been easier had you not told them exactly what was happening. Anyway, we went and the weather was perfect (mid-April), We went to MK in the afternoon before dinner, had dinner and watched the fireworks and MK was open til 3, so it was great, we motored around the place doing all the stuff we wanted easily, making buying the tickets for that day worthwhile. The next day we used the tickets I had saved for so long, had a kitchen sink and enjoyed Epcot most of the day. It was a great time and it felt so good to see her enjoying getting to do all the things she didn’t on the previous trip. There were a few pangs of guilt here and there, but nothing major.

    I would say there are two great things about going without kids that I didn’t expect – 1-the relief of not constantly being on alert about where the kids are when it’s crowded. 2- I should have expected this because it makes sense, but after a couple of trips with them, you appreciate just how nimbly you can move around the park without them. You can walk faster, don’t have to carry/keep track of as much, decisions are easier, you don’t care how much of their meal the other person eats, bathroom breaks aren’t an ordeal, etc.

    That said, I can’t wait to take the kids again, we’re thinking of going to Disneyland next time, because we’ve never been there, but going without them was well worth it, I’d recommend doing it if you can.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      That sounds like a great “do-over” trip! Thanks for sharing! Have fun on your next family vacation to see the mouse!

  • MikeBlakesley

    My wife and I don’t have any kids but we travel to Disney frequently with a younger couple who has a daughter. They first started bringing her when she was 3. She is a wonderful kid (now 6 and we are planning a DCL+Disneyland trip this fall) and we have a great time both with and without her along.

    There are definite great things about going without the kids. I think every mom’n'dad should go at least once without them. It’s a completely different experience, “not as fun” in some ways but way MORE fun in other ways.

    If a family is making a “once in a lifetime trip” then sure, the kids must go along; but for the increasing amount of people who do multiple trips, there should be no stigma from leaving the kids home once in a while.

    As far as the feelings of guilt, etc. turn this into a good “teaching” experience for the kids. Let them learn that Mom and Dad deserve a little vacation and time just to themselves. Also that kids don’t ALWAYS get EVERYTHING they want in other aspects of life, and vacations are the same way.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Some things are not as fun, but some things are way MORE fun…that is so true!

  • Leofoenget

    I’ve gone without kids a few times. I even left my husband at home with them with one still in diapers. (that was a long time ago) It wasn’t a big deal

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks for commenting!